AP NEWS

Vermont picked as 1 of 3 regional dairy innovation centers

September 18, 2019

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The state of Vermont has won a grant to create one of three regional dairy business innovation centers across the country, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy said Wednesday.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets will get just over $454,000 in USDA funding for fiscal year 2019 to provide technical and financial assistance to help dairy producers diversify their products and adapt to emerging market trends, Leahy’s office said. The goal of the three-year initiative is to make dairy farms more viable.

“In recent years, Vermont has been significantly impacted by the downturn in the dairy economy, but our farmers demonstrate daily the opportunities for innovation and diversification,” Leahy, a Democrat, said in a written statement.

Dairy farmers have faced a prolonged period of low milk prices.

The work will be done in Vermont and support work in surrounding states.

“These dollars will help sustain and enhance Vermont’s dairy farms and, most importantly, will help farm families innovate as the industry continues to evolve,” Republican Gov. Phil Scott said.

The other centers will be at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Tennessee.

Leahy has pushed for an additional $20 million to support the three initiatives, his office said.